Fences in Botswana
In 2003, EIA was approached by Botswana based NGOs and conservations for assistance in dealing with two entrenched and contentious issues relating to the construction of Veterinary cordon fences in two highly sensitive and ecologically fragile areas
Driven by the EU’s lucrative beef trade subsidies, Botswana’s cattle barons (comprising roughly 80% of the Botswana Government cabinet) wanted to create a beef export zone in Ngamiland, the wildlife rich area that is home to the Okavango Delta. This would give them access to preferential trade tariffs but in order to meet EU requirements, the beef would have to be Foot and Mouth Disease free. Constructing a massive veterinary cordon fence across Ngamiland was considered the quickest and most effective way to do this, but would have completely compromised the region and was contrary to all recommendations presented by the Environmental Impact Assessment Study conducted to identify the best available option. Over the next 6 years, EIA engaged in a political campaign at EU level to ensure that the integrity of the area was maintained at that sustainability of the region was protected from short term financial gain.
The Makgadikgadi National Park
The largest wetland habitat in Botswana and home to some of the last truly migratory wildlife, notably zebra, was a very different issue. The decision to construct a fence around the Makgadikgadi National Park was an attempt to address long standing issues of livestock encroachment into the National Park because the natural boundary and barrier between wildlife and domestic stock, the Boteti River, had not run for 20 years. Fence construction began along the southern boundary in 2003 and largely ignored fence alignment and mitigation measures recommended by the Environmental Assessment. EIA’s involvement was to support and extend existing efforts by national and international NGOs, local tour operators and individuals seeking to minimise further damage by ensuring that mitigating measures were put in place as a priority and that further discussion and debate on the eastern alignment was conducted in an open and consultative manner, ensuring best practice. A Local Advisory Committee was established and remains in force, although Botswana experience excellent rains in 2010 and the Boteti River has been running ever since.
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